One of the less healthy ways I stay sane is through countless hours of playing video games, mainly those of strategic and engineering varieties. While playing these games, I chat with my friends through a well-known online platform called Discord, where unforeseen social conflicts would eventually rage.
It’s essentially an expansive series of server varieties, each with text and voice chat rooms that can be used while engaging in games of one’s choice. Discord has everything from educational servers where different subjects are taught to role-playing servers to safe havens for Bronies. PC and iPhone users can use this platform easily.
Welcome to the pleasant dim
In my several years of chatting away, enjoying Discord’s pleasantly dim background, I will be the first to say that many funny and friendly individuals can be found on Discord as well as a fairer share of those who are not. I was often more worried about the random folks than I was about the harm my friends could cause to each other.
One of my buddies, Mr. Purple, (yes, this and other references are a homage to the characters in “Reservoir Dogs.”) made a server and invited me to join it, bringing me into the pleasant dim. I knew only him there; the other dozen or so folks were randoms, none older than 22, most my age.
I have to say that week was one of the better ones I’ve had.
Though I knew none of these people, we spent many long evenings and nights laughing our hearts out in voice chat. We played games like skribbl.io (essentially a draw-and-guess game) and Cards Against Humanity and sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” for hours during that first week.
For those who might not be keen on meeting people in real life, Discord may be perfect for you. I know many shy or introverted individuals who were helped through this platform, one being Mr. Purple and another being a sad fellow I will discuss in a later column.
In time, we recruited more people to our server, both randoms and friends we knew well. A primary player to emerge would be one of our classmates, Mr. Brown, who joined in the summer.
He would be a primary player in the fall when everything would collapse.
When he first joined, we had yet another summer of great times. We played VR chat, a game centered around meeting folks — this was as much of a laugh as anything else. We also played heated games of Risk, filled with swearing and yelling, along with games from the previous summer.
These were times that challenged and broke through the fear, anxiety, and loneliness of the pandemic. We laughed and joked our way through the Summer of Love and the Pandemic from Hell, not knowing nor caring much so long as we were chatting away.
However, this summer would be our last hurrah.
Mr. Purple decided he was gonna fall in love with a “girl” whom he met on the platform instead of in real life.
Was she a 50-year-old man from Louisiana who liked teenage boys? I’ll never know, and neither will Mr. Purple regardless of how much he thinks he knew about her.
Long story short, a bunch of drama flared up on the server.
Mr. Purple saturated the once friendly and comical atmosphere of the server with flirtatious comments that multiplied like roaches, just to make accommodations for his girl. Every time I saw the words “bae” or “I love you, baby,” (I saw these more often now than literally anything else) I was shouting “Get a room!” as loud as I could regardless of who was home with me.
The leagues of interesting people left the server seeing how barren it had become. We went from having more than 1,000 messages per day to at most a dozen.
A typical day on the server, not including the aforementioned flirtatious bubbly wrap:
These “conversations” were a plague, but one that had only appeared after the girl. I knew the death of this server was the fault of her and the control she had over Mr. Purple.
Mr. Brown noticed this situation as well and did all he could to conjure the talk of old. He bashed the flirting and monotonous jabbering that proliferated and made the jokes and comments that kids our age should be making. These are the only years we have to make them; soon we will embrace our roles as men and leave these days behind.
Mr. Brown’s behavior must’ve been perceived as a threat to the girl’s control, so she organized a militia of the remaining active server members against him. Soon everyone hated Mr. Brown regardless of their past experiences with him.
I then knew I had no reason to stay.
The situation soon evolved into Mr. Brown and me against Mr. Purple’s squeeze and the rest of the folks on the server. I suppose Mr. Purple was simply torn, so he stayed primarily silent.
Mr. Brown may not have been the kindest figure in the world even before everyone was made to attack him, but he was the only person who could engage in a functional, human conversation.
No one else made themselves available, except for my other good friend, Mr. Blue, who stayed entirely separate from the civil war. Our encounters were treasured and rare, but Mr. Blue had both a job and a girlfriend in real life so he had an excuse, but he was still more active than Mr. Purple.
In the very early spring, I had had enough. I left Mr. Purple’s server and the conflict to join Mr. Brown’s, and we had many more entertaining days talking with classmates in voice chat.
His server consisted of a new crowd, mostly folks whom I had never associated with before, but I soon expanded into this new circle and rethought my past one.
Mr. Purple and his crush showed no signs of breaking up, and all I could do was speculate on the damage she was doing.
As of the writing of this column, however, Mr. Purple has wizened up and banished the 5-decade-old Louisiana man, an event that made me happy for both great and villainous reasons. “I told you so, Mr. Purple, I told you so…”
The stories I have heard about her and the way she manipulated Mr. Purple continue to slowly crawl out from under the dirt, just to disgust me with the stupidity fleeting love can strike upon a man. Drama and human stupidity can be found anywhere, but I feel in this case, it was all only possible through Discord.
As I have written my heart out about the foolishness of teenage life, I failed to include several other important stories. In my next two columns, I’ll describe my experiences with the miserable Mr. Pink as well as better times on Discord.
This series titled In My Son’s Words features the experiences of my son, Joseph, as a teenager and a child of a single parent.
If you would like to contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.